Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] compulsory element of sudbury model

From: Madeleine Hesselink <>
Date: Fri Oct 7 12:42:01 2005

--- wrote:

I am
> referring to a potential scenario
> in which a person may become interested in being
> involved in a project
> outside of the school, but the school mandates that
> he or she attend the school a
> minumum number of hours per week.

It is my understanding that if a student at a Sudbury
Model School is involved with an outside project, that
could count as attendance. The exact way it would be
handled would depend on the school--maybe trust the
student, maybe be approved by school meeting, I really
don't know. Our school is so new (today is our 3rd
day!!!) that we have obviously not run across that

>That seems to
> protect the institution over
> the rights of the individual.
> Wouldn't the sudbury model, with its pure adherence
> to democratic principles,
> better serve the needs of its individuals, if it
> trusted the individuals to
> decide for themselves when the school was an
> appropriate place for them to be
> and when it was not?

I don't see protecting the rights of the institution
over the individual to be contradictory to democracy
at all. What it is contrary to is libertarianism, and
people often mistake the Sudbury Philosophy for being
libertarian. It is precisely putting the school before
any individual that makes a Sudbury School decidedly
not libertarian.

>Shouldn't we question the
> concept of the
> institutionalization of children?

Absolutely. But the decision of whether or not to
attend a Sudbury school should always rest with the
child. When given a choice to stay home with their
parents and siblings, or go to a sudbury type school
and hang out with other kids, I think most children
would make the choice to go to the school with the
knowledge that making this choice might mean giving up
certain other freedoms that are not acceptable to the
school. A Sudbury school is more of a community of
children rather than an institution (over which they
have no ownership), where all of the members of the
community have made the decision (by choosing to
attend) to put the good of the community (and thus the
good of all) above the good of any one individual.
Theoretically, a group of children could vote as a
block and change the attendance policy, however
depending on state laws and the strength of its
community this act could sabotage the school. Plus,
at our school, there actually is no required
attendance (lenient state laws). So far, everyone
comes every day, but it is not required. If the
School Meeting decides to make it mandatory, then it
will be for the purpose of protecting the school--but
it will have been done in a decidedly democratic

Hope this helps!
Received on Fri Oct 07 2005 - 12:41:55 EDT

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